What if a child from another world crash-landed on Earth, but instead of becoming a hero to mankind, he proved to be something far more sinister?
With Brightburn, the visionary filmmaker of Guardians of the Galaxy and Slither presents a startling, subversive take on a radical new genre: superhero horror.
What happens when you cross the superhero origin with a horror movie? Brightburn is what happens!
Birghtburn is an interesting mix of the two genres, playing incredibly close to the origin of Superman and showing us how one small twist in the tale can make all the difference.
If you’re a fan of else worlds or “what if?” comics then this movie is absolutely going to be one for you.
There’s a lot here for fans of both genres to enjoy as the film carefully straddles the line between the two. It’s clear from the outset that a lot of thought has gone in to structuring the story.
The opening is very quick to set the scene with Tori (Elizabeth Banks) and Kyle Breyer. Within seconds we understand they’re a married couple struggling to conceive when a freak meteor shower causes something – Brandon – to land in the woods behind their house.
The care and attention that’s put in to these scenes easily led me in to a false sense of security. It feels familiar, it feels safe and above all it doesn’t feel scary.
It’s from this point onwards the movie jumps to Brandon aged 12 and it quickly begins to subvert expectations. In fact the movie wastes absolutely no time in pointing out that Brandon is different and more than a little creepy.
Moments like seeing him put his hand in the lawnmower show a more curious and innocent side to him exploring his powers. These moments follow the template I’m more used to as a comic book fan. Once again Brightburn is lulling me in to feeling safe and secure.
Opposing this are scenes like Brandon convulsing in his bed as the ship hiding in the barn calls out to him. Or when he finally begins to succumb to the voices and torments Caitlin, the daughter of Erica, the poor waitress who ends up with glass in her eye in one of the more gory moments in the movie.
The best analogy I can think of is to think of Brightburn as a set of scales. At the beginning of the movie it’s tipped more towards the superhero genre and as it goes on the balance begins to turn toward the horror.
With Brightburn does really well is pushing the boundaries of what comic book fans are used to seeing in a movie. The level of gore is outstanding speaking as someone who doesn’t get to se much more than Mystique impaled on a fence these days.
In particular the scenes where Brandon tortures Erica in the diner and also where he attacks his uncle (Matt Jones) in his pickup truck are brilliantly executed. They build some serious dramatic tension but also both have great payoffs. The scene with the truck also manages to bring in some awkward humour which I think worsened the final result rather than soften it.
There’s a convenient moment towards the end of the film with Elizabeth Banks hanging from a window which I found frustrating. An all-too-convenient call back to an earlier moment in the film almost saved the day. But thankfully for Brightburn it doesn’t make obvious choices and once again subverts expectations.
My takeaway from seeing this movie is that all my expectations were either subverted or skewed to a point where the outcome became a genuine surprise. I thought I had this movie fully unpicked and there would be no surprises… more fool me!
Brightburn does an excellent job of subverting the superhero genre. It brings scares and gore intermixed with a rousing score and some classic comic book tropes. A killer ending helps complete a really compelling, intense viewing experience.
Directed by David Yarovesky, Brightburn stars Elizabeth Banks, David Denham, Jackson A. Dunn, Matt Jones and Meredith Hagner.